LEEDS RHINOS have to withstand a Giant backlash tonight, hooker Matt Parcell has warned.
Rhinos will go above Castleford Tigers into top spot in Betfred Super League if they beat Huddersfield Giants at Headingley.
Giants are second from bottom and have not won in more than two months, since a 24-16 home result against Wakefield Trinity on February 24.
They are reeling from a disastrous 28-24 loss to Kingstone Press Championship part-timers Swinton Lions in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup four days ago, but Parcell reckons that makes them more dangerous tonight.
“Obviously they will be pretty disappointed with the result last weekend and they will be looking to make up for that,” predicted the in-form Aussie.
“We are definitely going to have to aim up. A win can potentially put us on top of the table so there’s a lot to play for.
“We are in a good position right now and it is up to us to continue the form and continue where we are at.
“From where we were a couple of rounds in, it is something we are pretty proud of. But this is round 12 and there’s a lot more games left.
“The biggest thing for us is we have still got a lot of improvement left in us. I think that’s really exciting.”
Rhinos’ three defeats this season have all come on the road and Parcell reckons it is vital they make Headingley a fortress.
“We haven’t lost a game yet at home and that is very important,” he said.
“We are still working on combinations. I think defensively we are pretty good.
“We had a couple of lapses in the second half last week which we can work on, but we are looking forward to progressing further.”
Rhinos have allowed the opposition back into their last two games after holding a big half-time lead and Parcell conceded that is something they can’t afford to do tonight.
“We don’t want to get into that habit,” he said.
“The positive is the first halves have been really good. It is definitely something we can fix up, we don’t want to be letting teams back into it, especially when it comes to Super-8s and finals time.
“We have got to work on that.”
Tonight is Rhinos’ fourth game in 14 days, but Parcell was rested for the Cup tie against Doncaster last week and insisted he is fresh and raring to go.
This month was Parcell’s first experience of a double-header weekend and he admitted: “I was pretty sore on Tuesday last week, but luckily enough I had a rest on Friday.
“That was pretty good, I think if I’d have played another game I’d have been pretty sore, but I quite enjoyed it.
“I think we’ve got another one coming up at the end of May, so I’ll look forward to that! It is better when you are winning so that made the Easter period a lot better.”
Leeds forward Stevie Ward, meanwhile, has revealed he could play for Wales in the end-of-season World Cup but insists his priority is to force his way into the England side.
The Rhinos back rower was a late call-up for the 2016 Four Nations Series but never got to make his international debut and this week missed out on selection for England’s mid-season game against Samoa.
However, the 23-year-old Ward, is still in England coach Wayne Bennett’s 30-strong elite training squad and said: “I’ve got a strong confidence that I want to be playing in Australia at the end of the year.
“My mother’s Welsh – she’s from Wrexham – and that’s something that can always be looked at but the optimum thing for me is to be there with England and playing to the best of my ability.”